It’s October, and that means it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are no shortages of pink ribbons and shows of support for those suffering from the disease. From the National Football League and coffee mugs, to KFC’s Buckets for the Cure. There are so many companies who have added the trademark pink ribbon to their product labels this time of year. And many of those companies are doing so with great intentions and are donating profits from their sales to great organizations that fight to find the causes and cures for breast cancer. And for that, we all can be grateful.

But when it comes to putting pink ribbons on personal care products that contain known or suspected carcinogens, or hormone disruptors, are we really helping to fund a cure, or are we unknowingly perpetuating the cause? Here is a list of items to avoid this “Pink-tober.”

Parabens- these are included in personal care products like lotions, shampoos, antiperspirants and toothpaste. Parabens are used to extend the shelf life of personal care products. Parabens are chemicals that are synthetically produced. Many personal care companies now list their products as Paraben Free on the label, making it easier to avoid this toxic ingredient.

BPA – a chemical used to create plastics. Often found in food containers and water bottles. Can also be used to coat the inside of canned foods. The chemical can leech into the food we are eating and the water we are drinking. Again, opt for products, like glass water bottles, that are free of BPA.

Formaldehyde – often times found in lotions, deodorants, and nail polish, formaldehyde is a chemical the US Food and Drug Administration lists as a carcinogen – or cancer causing. Again, look for products with formaldehyde, or formalin, on the label and avoid the product.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I support many organizations that “go pink” for breast cancer awareness in October. Every year since my diagnosis, I have purchased new pink walking shoes and participated in local breast cancer awareness events. I believe in the message of awareness and early detection. But I also believe, as my grandmother would say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


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